As last month was the warmest March ever recorded in history, many gardeners are anxious and ready to get their hands dirty. This reminds us of the Seed Man’s thoughts on early planting and we hope you enjoy his explanation of why he tells gardeners to “Go jump in a lake!” As the air temperatures begin to warm, we’ve prepared an area for a wildflower planting, spread our seed and anticipate quick germination and flowers shortly after. Or you may have planted in the fall for early spring color. But as certain as spring arrives, so do the calls during April/early May months from customers wondering why their seeds aren’t doing anything. Or if they have germinated, there has been minimal growth. Through over 20 years of advising wildflower enthusiasts, I have created this analogy that seems to resonate with both the novice and avid gardeners alike. “Go jump in Lake Michigan in April.” My delivery is usually a bit softer than that, but the idea is simple. Like a large body of water, ground temperatures take a long time to warm. We all get garden fever after that first 80 degree day, but it’s often weeks before the ground is warm enough for germination. Like a large body of water, ground temperatures take much longer to warm that most people realize. With cool ground temperatures it can take a little longer during these early spring weeks for germination to occur. Ideally we would like ground temperatures to be at about 55 degrees for optimal germination to occur. Certainly we can’t forget the role proper moisture and high quality wildflower seeds also play a role in the success of your planting. With these optimal conditions your wildflower seed should germinate in 7-10 days, if not sooner! Here’s a great link to help with determining ground temperatures in your area; http://www.greencastonline.com/tools/SoilTempMaps.aspx Certainly if you’re one of those people who sowed earlier and your seeds haven’t shown signs of life don’t panic. With a little help from Mother Nature and the gradual warming of the ground temperatures your seeds should begin germinating and you’ll be on your way to a meadow of beautiful wildflowers! Happy Gardening!
April 10, 2012.